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on 31 December 2015
Quick service. Book as described.
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on 19 April 2017
Worth waiting for!
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VINE VOICEon 18 November 2013
To me, as to many readers, those final words - 'to be concluded' - of Between the Woods and the Water were unexpected and anti-climactic. It left the 19-year-old Patrick Leigh Fermor sitting happily on a boat in the Danube with the Romanian town of Orsova a few miles away on the north bank and the (now Serbian) town of Severin a few miles away to the south.

During the 27 years after the publication of 'Between the Woods in the Water' Patrick Leigh Fermor - Paddy to everyone who knew him - made a number of attempts to write the story of the final part of his walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. Working from fragmentary diaries and an uncertain memory he was still trying to complete the manuscript when he died in 2011.

Artemis Cooper and Colin Thurbron - his editors and literary executors - faced a daunting and near-Herculean task in attempting to edit and complete the story. But they've succeeded - and in the process produced a manuscript that retains both Paddy's unique and near lyrical style of writing and his detailed knowledge of the religions, languages and customs of the various countries through which he walked.

The touches of humour in the book - particularly when, arriving late at night on outskirts of Budapest, Paddy mistakes a brothel for a down-market hotel - are delightful. Then, a few pages later whilst hiking along a stony beach-side path late at night, he manages to fall into the extremely cold sea - and is rescued by a group of near-nomadic Bulgarian fishermen. He spends some time living with them in their cave, drinking slavo and trying desperately to work out the origins of their Greek dancing...

The original manuscript ends, quite literally, in mid-sentence with Paddy still some miles outside Constantinople. Unfortunately we're told very little about his stay in the city but (although Paddy would probably have wished otherwise) Artemis Cooper and Colin Thurbron have included the diary entries of his stay, in January and February 1935, at a number of monasteries on the Orthodox Monastic State of Mount Athos. It makes an excellent finale and is an almost natural lead-in to A Time to Keep Silence, the fascinating story of the time he spent many years later living almost as a novitiate at a number of Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in France. Well worth reading.

Why only four stars? Perhaps because, for obvious reasons, it's not quite the Patrick Leigh Fermor whose other books I've so thoroughly enjoyed.

But, before you start reading 'The Broken Road', you'll probably find it helpful to print out a map of Bulgaria which includes the southern part of Romania plus, to the south, just a little of Greece.

Read and enjoy.
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on 5 June 2017
The final book in the trilogy, and as you probably know, not really that at all. PLF didn't finish this, and it's been put together by editors from his bits of notes and manuscript. They've done a good job, but it was a bit fractured - some parts are wonderful, others feel a bit disjointed - not surprisingly, of course. It's still a wonderful read - though for me it was really sad that there is nothing at all about Constantinople/Istanbul, the destination of the journey.
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on 31 October 2013
This is the third installment of Fermor's voyage across Europe. "The spectacular success of the first two volumes drastically increased public expectation of the third" avow Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper in their Introduction to this book. I cannot say in all honesty that "The Broken Road" read in isolation is the best introduction to PLF, but for those already familiar with his work this book will not disappoint them.

In a way it is two books in one : the termination of his long journey to Constantinople and extensive extracts from "the Green Diary" written up at the time he was only twenty. This covers his peregrinations over the monastic state of Mount Athos, after he left Istanbul. It is therefore much simpler in style with an immediacy that he certainly tried hard to recapture in his later writing - but without the painstakingly rewritten Byzantine prose !

Perhaps one of the reasons Paddy never quite managed to get round to editing his own material for publication was that in this latter part of the journey he dissembled less and gave a more transparent picture of his own character. When he suffers from the blues trudging the Wallachian plain between Tirnovo and Rustchuk he disarmingly admits it, except that his language is different. Today some might say that he exemplifies a mild case of bi-polar disorder - only "disorder" is already too strong and too damning a word to apply to an individual so incredibly sociable and sensitive. I would rather take it as an indication that he was thoroughly normal and that his amazing ability to circumvent his low threshold of boredom could not work in every extreme circumstance !

Be that as it may this book is a pearl for the initiated, not to be by-passed on any account. Moreover, I do not believe the mystique behind the man is in any way compromised - he remains a giant of humanity whose actual seeds of greatness are hard to discern.
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on 29 September 2015
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on 26 September 2015
My wife loves it
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on 18 January 2016
xmas present
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on 3 January 2016
Don`t remember so nothing unfavourable.
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on 10 January 2014
The publicity for the book was careful to talk it down - PLF's reluctance to complete before his death, the confusion of his mss, the incomplete ending etc - but I think all this was exaggerated. The first two thirds of the story is pretty much up to the standard of "Time of Gifts" and "Woods & Water", and if there is less purple prose, and the incidents are less interesting, that is simply because Bulgaria and Roumania were less fun than Hungary, as PLF indirectly makes clear.

As before, ladies old and young swoon at first sight of him (we see this by reading between the lines to be sure) and send him provisioned, laundered and ironed on his way (and no doubt satisfied in other ways, though he is discreet about this). The liveliest section is his stay in Bucharest, which starts with a stay in a cathouse in the suburbs, and ends in the halls and salons of the aristocracy and intelligensia. PLF then walked down the coast of the Black Sea, offering en route his most purple passage, a description of a night in a sea-cave with Bulgarian goatherds and Greek fishermen, well up to his most baroque standards. Not long after this the narrative simply stops, in mid-sentence.
His editors make a mystery of why he wrote no further, and of the disappointing entries in his youthful (lately recovered) diary for his time in Istanbul, but it is surely clear enough that it was the recovery of information which choked off his flow - he was at his best, and felt at his best, when his imagination and memory had free reign.

The book ends with the section of that diary which covers his subsequent visit to Mount Athos. It not very interesting in itself (there are much better descriptions in Robert Byron's book, for example) but does illustrate his youthful limitations (everyone is a "splendid type" or a "decent chap") and some of the hardships of the journey (in his favourite monastery he rejoices in "cutlery from which one is not forced to scrape a month's coagulated slime") which he often glosses over or makes entertaining in his worked-up writing.

This volume provides a fading end to his trilogy, but is well worth the read, if you have enjoyed the first two volumes: if you have not, I would not start here, but would suggest (obviously) that you start at the beginning, with "A Time of Gifts".
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